The 100-0 Debacle

In case you missed it, a Texas Christian Academy’s girl’s basketball program, Covenant School, demolished the girls basketball team from Dallas Academy 100-0 on January 13th.  The smashing made immediate nationwide news coverage and the outrage over the outcome of the game was, and remains, fairly massive.  The team from Covenant School issued a public apology to Dallas Academy after apparently realizing that the nature of their victory was in poor taste.  Reports say that the team was attempting three pointers in the fourth quarter to try and reach the 100 point mark.  The Covenant School, the players, and pretty much everyone else understands in hindsight that things got a bit out of control.  Except for one person.

The Coach.

Coach Micah Grimes from Covenant School has refused to apologize for the game, saying that he had nothing to be sorry for and that his girls played “with honor and integrity.”  After issuing such a statement, Coach Grimes was then fired from his coaching responsibilities. 

So what should evangelical Christians make of this story?  Here are a few thoughts.

First, students need to experience losing.  Just two nights ago I was playing ping pong with one of my students in our youth facility.  I am fairly decent with any kind of racket/paddle sport; I don’t lose in ping pong too often.  My student, who is an incredible guy, was playing his heart out.  I beat him soundly, 21-7.  And I will every time we play, I won’t let him win.  Until he wins.  My daughter, Callie Grace, can expect to grow up experiencing what it means to lose as well.  I won’t always just let her win because she is my daughter and because she is cute (which she is!).  Schools and organizations that refuse to let children and teenagers lose by giving all participants a trophy and sending everyone home with a certificate of victory do not understand the importance of experiencing loss.  What is at stake is not only a God-centered worldview in which self-esteem takes a backseat to a life lived for the glory of God, but also to the practical realities of life post high school.  When a previous culture of earned recognition gives way to an environment where everyone is equal regardless of merit, then hard times are coming when college applications are written, athletic scholarships are attempted, or any other form of merit based placement is given.  Yes, every child is special.  But we live in a world where there is loss; not everyone is the same. 

Second, we cannot divorce the above comments with the single most important biblical imperative.  Love God and give Him Glory.  This will always mean that the sphere of competition is placed well inside the realm of loving God and giving him Glory.  My interaction with my student during our ping pong game was not one of absolute domination.  My intention was to win, but in the process I made sure that he was having fun, was winning some points, and hopefully was getting better at the game.  More importantly, the ultimate point was to build a stronger relationship with this teenager for the glory of God.  What is striking concerning the victory by the Covenant School athletic program is to place this scenario within the scope of their vision and purpose statement:  To enable Covenant student/athletes, coaches, and spectators to glorify God and be witnesses for Jesus Christ.”  Can they be faithful to  this vision by defeating Dallas Academy?  Absolutely.  Can they be faithful to this vision by striving for a 100 point margin of victory against a vastly inferior team while the parents and spectators frantically cheer on the massacre?  I don’t think so.  Hard to discern how that is enabling to the glory of God.

Third, there is just human decency involved here.  Regardless of your doctrine of depravity, most will agree that people, based on the conscience that God gives all, are capable of having a heart in some matters.  I played 14 years of competitive tennis, including four years high school and four years college.  I have been around the most competitive of athletes and coaches and I have never met anyone who would have allowed this to happen.  Coach Grimes just simply comes across as a jerk for his refusal to acknowledge that having a spirit of winning does not mean we check our humanity at the back door.                    

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5 Replies to “The 100-0 Debacle”

  1. I can’t do it. At least not regularly. I can’t go all out and win at all costs, no matter what the skill disparity. When I play my son or daughter at anything, be it air hockey, chess, Wii, basketball, etc I can’t just use my skill and beat them regularly. The look on their faces and the sense of utter loss is too much for me. I see no advantage to teaching them about “loss” in this way. It’s just a game, and winning builds confidence. Losing destroys confidence. At least, that’s how it was for me. When I won at something – no matter if someone let up, or gave me a boost behind the scenes – it was a confidence builder and way better than losing. To be steadily beaten by someone better than me was the sure way of sending me in a path of jealousy and bitterness. I can point to several examples in my life where losing at uneven competition didn’t spur me to succeed, but discouraged me from continuing to compete.

    And I can’t stand to see their faces when I win.

    I let them compete, I play just hard enough to make it competitive. I get to the brink of them winning, then I step up my game to make it an accomplishment for them. But I remember the time I was playing my son in air hockey – he was maybe 5 and were really just poking around. I got excited and smacked the puck into the goal – at least I would have scored a goal if his little fingers hadn’t been hanging over the edge and got smashed by the puck. I’ll never forget that sense of actually hurting my son (he wasn’t hurt, but he hurt) just because of my desire to “win”.

    That’s what happened to losers of the 100-0 game. They got their hand smacked, but the other team didn’t seem to care, so they smacked the other hand.

    My dad taught me how to play chess when I was little. My the time I was 9, I was beating him. Was he letting me win? Maybe, but it certainly helped my confidence to continue to learn and excel at the game.

    I do think like you do that it wasn’t quite for the Glory of God to defeat the other team 100-0.

    1. I think you focused on the wrong part of this post Barry. I think Phil’s point was focusing on the lack of sportsmanship and Christian attitude in this game. The concept that you don’t need to roll over and lose purposely is, at best, a minor sidepoint.

      I understand you thoughts on the side issue however, and I know a lot of people that feel the same way. I think it is a matter of how people are wired as to how they address this issue (for example I have a relative that I don’t think has ever lost a game in her life since her parents don’t believe in her losing. . .I think that is the wrong answer, but she’s a great kid and it seems to work for them–so far). Its quite interesting you make the chess comment, because I just recently had the opportunity to play a 9-year old scholastic chess champion who was the son of one of my co-workers. He was good, but I beat him 5 straight games, and was not going to throw any of them. He loved it and was really pumped to be challenged, and I didn’t feel bad in the least (although plenty of secretarys asked how I could beat up on a kid!). So, I think you gauge the people and the situation involved and go from there (sort of like life in general). But, generally, if something is truly competitive, I think you play to win, but not necessarily to destroy (back to the point of Phil’s post).

  2. I think age has a lot to do when talking about children. When my daughter was young (under the age of four) we always let her win games. However the summer before she went to school we would not just let her win anymore because we knew she would not always win with her friends. We taught her sometimes you win sometimes you lose. When she beats us now its because she has truly beaten us.

  3. I also want to add I do believe in competition with children and sports. My daughter is a competitive gymnast and it teaches her a lot. She learns to win with grace as well as lose with grace. Gymnastics has taught her about working hard and doing the best you can.

  4. I, like Phil, have played competitive sports for years. I played on some great teams and on the worst teams. If a person always wins and gets a tropy what makes them want to strive to get better if just showing up gets a prize, and on the other end you never feel the joy of winning and knowing that you are the best at least for a season. I have taugth both of my kids how to lose from the start. Not that I never let them win, but I want them to WANT to get better and beat dad. Anyway enough of a rant on this.

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